The Story of ” Soul Ties”

Soul Ties was a very simple song to portray a very simple emotion. I was just ending a very tumultous relationship with a girl I thought I would marry. I remember my Mom telling me that every girl I fell in love with for real would leave an impression on my soul. These, according to her were ” Soul Ties” and this for sure explains the way I felt. It was very simple really…I hurt and was lonely. So, enjoy ” Soul Ties”…the girl never heard it to my knowledge. Young love…

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The story behind ” The Ledge”

This is song number three in my continuing description of the album ” The Window” which is due for re-release on its 17th anniversary January 11th. I have decided to wait till then because it seems so right to make it 17 years. This is because I was that age when I began to see the world in a different light and began searching for my voice. At 17, I was starting music school and had very high hopes. I did well in music but very bad in an early relationship as I mentioned in the last post about ” The Window”.  The Ledge is written about a place…a place of complete peace that was deep into the twelve acres of woods I grew up in. I remember going there as a child as well as an adult.

There was a little mountain at the end of my land. It seemed that no-one but my brother and I ever visited this place. There is a 25 foot rock wall that leads down to a hidden valley I had named ” Lost Valley” when I was 6 years old. ( I wrote a song by this title which can be found on my ” Murmurs” album” We spent countless days playing there as boys and as an adult I visited to escape the pressures of the world I had created. One day, I visited this ledge and sat down as usual. You could watch the hawks circle and hear birds everywhere sing a song they believed was for themselves. Such peace. I wanted to capture it.

My father had a condo in the mountains of White mountains of NH. I went there for a week with a keyboard. There was no phone and I was totally secluded. It was the off-season and I wanted to be alone anyway. I wrote this song and a song called ” Soul Ties’, which is my next blog planned as it is song 4 on the album.  Both songs were written for a special girl who spent a lot of time with me there.   ” The Ledge” is really a very simple song about the place I loved so much. It has a touch of melancholia right from the start but really sounds kind of  pensive to me. When I play it I can go right back and be sitting there with nature my only companion. The girl lingers there in spirit as well. I wrote a series of poems called ” The Girl in the Picture” and all the settings and descriptive landscape are here in my mind. I hope you enjoy it. Here is ” The Ledge”

The story behind the song ” The Window” – Patrick Lee Hebert

Ok, this one is the hardest one of all. This song literally changed my entire life. From the beginning it has always been a mystery as to how it actually could have happened. The Window was written totally as an improvisation caught on tape. It took me over a year to perfect it and learn how to play it. How crazy does that sound? When I started sharing it with people ( over a 2 years later) it had a profound effect on the listener. I honestly believed it was a ” raving ” from my hurt soul ( more on that in a minute). I had a new friend named Michael St. Jean. We had met at Sears where I was presently working selling vacuum cleaners.  I invited him over to my piano studio to hear me play some Mozart I was learning. Mike was an opera singer of sorts, so he loved classical music. Somehow, I ended up playing some new compositions and an old song called ” The Window” I will never forget the way it transported me back. I had never played this for ANYONE before. He was so taken by it, he talked me into my first public concert of my works, which was April 14th, 1992 at UMASS Lowell, a college in Lowell Mass. He insisted the world would love it and my other songs I had now written. I was completely against it and told him so. He said ” Too bad Patrick, you are scheduled to play in a few months, and I have paid for everything” Of course I was terrified and begged him to cancel. He said he had made commitments and he had newspapers lined up and everything. I had to come through. I reluctantly agreed as long as I could perform classical for the first half so the audience would at least enjoy that. I was used to performing gospel and classical. I had been for several years. So as the time approached, I got ready and was more scared by the day. The Window was personal, no-one wanted to hear it. It was a mad work by a broken man. 

The Window, Patrick Lee Hebert, Piano Solos, Original Piano compositions,
The original album cover of "The Window"

To make a long story short, this performance changed everything. The audience did like my works…alot. I was then asked to become a player for the Cercle Francais and the ” Bonjour” television show with Josee Vachon  where I played songs and spoke pretty broken french for all of Canada and the Northeastern US. I also remember it was the last time my dear mother ever heard me perform in public. She was in the front row and was so proud of me she said. She passed away six months later. She had tears in her eyes when I told the audience about “The Window”, she had been there you see, and knew what I had been through. Things musically were going well and Mike decided it was time to make a CD, that new invention everyone was getting into. He again financed the whole project and my recording career was launched. I never knew how far it would take me spiritually, musically and financially. I was a composer!!! The Window changed it all. It took a friend with faith and vision where I had none, but here we were. Four years later, I would record ” The Poet’s Dream” under my own label and it is all I have done since.  Amazing. Quite different from the bleak night I wrote that song and became a different person. Here is how the Window came to be:

I was married with a young daughter by the age of 19. I thought all was well and I was a father working toward a future of unlimited happiness. I had a great job selling Yamaha pianos and was performing in malls regularly for them. I was making amazing money and had a new car, a new motorcycle and lots of nice clothes and jewelry. My church even bought me a brand new six-foot grand to play on. I was styling as they say. I came home one day to a message to call work. They were closing the store and I was out of a job in a month. I was devastated. I got a job cleaning carpets for $6.00 and hour. Quite a change. I lost my motorcycle, car and confidence. Little did I know!

I remember January, 1989 coming home to a note that my wife had left. I had no idea where she and my daughter were. This began a three-month period of unbelievable emotional stress. She finally contacted me in April declaring the worst…divorce. I still didn’t know why and began to lose weight and generally go out of my mind. The night she called me, I went to my new grand piano. I was so conflicted. I remember putting a tape recorder on the piano and playing for seven plus minutes. Complete improvisation. I wrote about love and the loss of love. I missed my daughter and wife. I was angry beyond words and full of despair. It all came out. I took that tape and listened to it for months before attempting to play it again. I decided to call it ” The Window”  because it made me look back at my entire life. I transcribed it over time and held on to it until Mike heard it as I described above. I also remember that was the night I began writing poetry. I have written 1100 poems since and published many. A new book ” The Forgotten Dream” is coming out soon. It is being edited as I write. A lot of my poems from that era were ravings, but they helped me cope. It took years, but I put my life together and with the help of God, I am married to a wonderful woman and have 5 children and one grandson. Life got wonderful. ” The Window” still haunts me though to this day. It is a remembrance of where I started and where I am. This can be a strengthening factor.

The structure of “The Window” is very linear. It holds on a chord then moves to another movement never repeating. The recording is EXACTLY as it was done that night. I never changed a thing. It was a very raw composition but very real as well. I concertized it for 2 decades and still do. I also can be brought back with just the opening chord, which reminds me of a tolling bell, filled with grim apprehension. There are times in the song where hope prevails…a theme I seem to keep in all my minor works for some reason. There is always hope for us. My experience proves it. SO please listen to ” The Window” with an open mind. I pray you are moved by the composition of a fledgling composer with real feelings to portray. Enjoy !

PS….The original recording as well as a video of that first concert still exist and I plan to someday release them.

Here is ” The Window”

Patrick Lee Hebert – Highland Piano Studios 2010

Snow: The first song from “The Window” The story behind the song

Welcome to the first of eleven posts that will introduce and explain each song from my upcoming release ” The Window”. This album was originally released in 1994. Most of the songs were written between 1989 and right up to the day of the recording which was January 11th, 1994. The studio was in Lewiston Maine with Henri Roi behind the booth. What is really neat though was that the studio was closing and everything was packed in boxes except a couch, table and one beautiful 7 foot 4 Yamaha Grand. I was nervous and very sad after having lost my mother only one month before. Not to mention I had never recorded before except for television and I was really unsure as to what to expect.

It took a total of ten hours to record the album, including a lunch at Wendy’s. High budget I assure you!! What was lucky for me though was the fact that the engineer was really a pro. He had worked with just about everyone I knew and respected and he did a marvelous job with this recording. I was so green in the field of recording that I never realized it had not been mastered, just recorded ” Raw”. In 1994, few independents even made CDs so I had no advice from anyone. SO, my agent, Michael St. Jean and I just assumed it was ready to press. So to press we went with big expectations. It was very good ” raw” and no-one ever mentioned it until my new engineer was hired to digitize it in 2003 and he exclaimed ” this is amazingly clear and full, but it has never been mastered”. This was the guru of solo piano recording Gerry Putnam who worked five albums in total with me. The rest as they say….is history.

So here we are at song number one: Snow

Snow is probably the easiest song to explain from this album which tends to be a bit sad and melancholy as well as downright angry. But there are several songs about happier things too that balance the effect I think. Snow is about …well…snow. I was 20 years old and pulling another all nighter in my practice room…my fathers church. I was music director, so very often I would sleep under the piano because I practiced six hours or so a night. I was studying heavy classical with the great George Loring at the time for school, and he made me work very hard. Anyway, I noticed that a stormfront was piling snow outside the windows at an alarming rate. I remember it was about three AM and I was finally about done for the night. I went outside and looked around. It was amazing how quiet the world was. It was like I was locked in a time portal with all that snow and no noise at all. I walked into the woods next to my house for at least an hour enthralled. Everything was white and pure. At this time my personal life was a mess with a nasty divorce in sight with heartbreak my most frequent state of mind. I felt free for the first time in so long, I had to capture this in music.

I made my way back to the church, brewed some coffee and got to work. I penned the song in about three hours writing it down as I went. I remember going to work that day VERY tired but very excited about how inspiration just attacked me, a new composer with dreams of music. I began to play solo concerts not long after this and played it live all the time, especially in winter. I had no idea my life was about to explode in the biggest trial of my life…but I will save that for next week which will be the title song ” The Window” itself. So for now, enter a New Hampshire winter morning right before dawn, where all is new and all is hopeful. Listen for the snow as it starts and stops…timeless.   Click here for  “Snow”

Patrick

August 17th, 2010